The 4 R’s of child protection: a reminder

by | Sep 9, 2020 | blog

The start of a new year is always a good time to remind ourselves of the basics. As a designated safeguarding lead you will have overall responsibility for child protection. Many of you will follow the process below in your sleep.

However, for others of you, it may have been several months since you had to manage a disclosure and this reminder is for you.


You can’t do any of the other three R’s without firstly recognising there is a concern that needs to be recorded and reported or referred.

And that recognising is that little alarm bell that goes off in the back of your brain.

It comes from knowing the signs of child abuse from knowing the sounds and that a child has been harmed or having an alarm bell ringing, that there is a safeguarding issue that’s going on. And so get your little alarm bell working, get that little alarm bell trained so it can recognise when something isn’t right, so that it can recognise when there is a potential problem and you can recognise when you need to take the next step which is to record the incident, the disclosure or the concern that you’ve got.


Now recording for me as a lawyer is the really important bit.

It’s the bit where you actually say, I’ve recognised the concern.

This is what the concern is, and this is what has happened. And in terms of recording it, do so as thoroughly as possible. And ask yourself things like, why did it happen? When did it happen? What happened? Who said it? What was going on? And what was happening at the time who was around? Why that time? Was there something specific happening at that particular time, that could have prompted that disclosure from the child, any of that could be really useful and really important to further information. And being gathered, and certainly in terms of reporting it.


Is the situation such that this is information that has to be shared is information that has to be shared immediately. Is this information that I have to share? But does it have to be a major? Do I have to drop everything and run off and go and do this? Or is it something that I can say, right, okay, I’ll finish what I’m doing. I’ve recorded it. I’m seeing the person I need to speak to later on today, I will have that conversation then.

Best practice – always pass to your Designated Safeguarding Lead.


So you’ve recognised that you’ve recorded it And now you’re reporting it. And in the reporting of it, you, the designated safeguarding lead then has a job.

You have to decide what happens next.

And is that something that happens immediately? Is it something that needs to be referred on? Or is it something that actually it’s it’s low level, we don’t need to worry about it: is a referral something you can consider it at a later stage.

You will only know that by knowing what your policies and procedures are, in terms of escalating safeguarding concerns and in terms of meeting your safeguarding obligations as well as a thorough understanding of the types and impact of the harm on the child.

If you decide not to take action, where are you keeping your records? And are you reviewing those decisions?

Don’t forget about it. Keep referring and keep a regular check on these disclosures that come up.

If the decision is a referral needs to be made, is it immediate? Is there an immediate risk of significant harm to this child or children? do you need to act now?

Do not delay. Make the referral when you need to make it in a timely manner and the locals are will take over their steps as appropriate or the police will act as they see fit.

So remember, recognise it, record it, report it, refer it.


Want more?

Want to keep on top of your safeguarding obligations, join Kate and other child protection professionals in The Safeguarding Association community.

Join my open Safeguarding Hub for DSL’s 


Now you know more about the different types of abuse, learn what the various stages of child protection look like in my short course: Overview of Child Protection Stages


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Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Safeguarding Practitioners Ltd & Kate Young disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.

1 Comment

  1. Ann Stuart

    Hello, Actually this is helpful but you missed one more ‘R’ – that is Respond so Recognise, Respond, Record, Report Refer

    Responding Safely is key to so asking the right questions etc. I deliver training on how to respond safely to concerns. But in terms of the ‘R’s” it’s defiantly 5 not 4.


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